A New Floss-iphy

Does anyone else get a little tense when they read/watch/inject the news these days? Even when the economic and business news these days isn’t unremittingly bad, it’s still so uncertain.
Uncertain times can keep many of us closer to home. It’s either an instinctive nesting/hunkering down in defense, or gee, maybe the fact that who has money for trips and going out these days anyway? Even if you do have money (and can I have a loan by the way?), this nouveau poverty ethos being preached in many parts is an encouragement to lay low and practice those economical domestic arts, like handcrafting furniture out of nothing more than flour, water and shoe polish.
Stressing about the economy can only be bad for us, which is something else to worry about. But wait – there’s good news. As Slate’s Jack Shafer points out, journalists get bored with reporting the same old same old – and even the worst news becomes same old awfully fast these days. So even amidst the teeth-chatteringly scary items there’s some cheer to be found. You know this global financial crisis that makes you wake up sweating in the middle of the night? Well hey, it might actually be good for your health.
That’s right. Remember when people used to fret about the huge portions of unhealthy food they were eating too much of out at restaurants, and feel guilty for not staying in and whipping up some healthful home cooking? Well, no more. Now, we’ll be eating home to save money and getting healthier meals as a bonus. So hooray for the crisis. Because I’m sure everyone’s cooking up healthy beans instead of pulling out the frozen chicken fingers made with mystery oils that were on sale, or the bargain-priced instant mac ´n´ cheese. And for a little comfort food soothing, baking bread instead of hitting up the half-price donuts the grocery puts out at the end of the day.
Well, OK, maybe only some of us are hitting up the half-price donuts. Others of us, I know, have a better attitude. It’s like in The Waltons, that 1970s TV show about a warm, close-knit family pulling together to get through the Depression on love and not much else. The last scene in most shows was of the house with the lights mostly turned out and the family all saying their goodnights to each other. Well, some of us would be calling out those loving goodnights and some of us would be the window with the light on, still burning electricity, yelling out, “Could you all shut up, I’m trying to read here.”
No, no, I’ll join in on the making lemonade out of lemons too. I mean, I have a background in economics, I’ve covered international financial markets as a journalist, I think I really can help provide a useful answer for our current troubles, one inexpensive domestic detail that can provide a small measure of comfort as we’re tending our home fires against the unknowns in the outer darkness. I have just one word: flossing.
First of all, flossing your teeth is a pretty cheap activity – less so if you use those handy little sticks with the floss built in, but that’s between you and your budget, or you and your manual dexterity. I’ve read it mentioned as something couples can do together too to promote mutual good health – and hey, that really sounds like a way to spark that loving feeling – staring into a mirror together with slimy bits of blech-covered string hanging out of your mouths. Flossing might also promote all sorts of good health benefits, which is good for future savings in health costs, and if you’re sure what kind of health insurance coverage you’ll have in the future then congratulations to you and your psychic.
Most of all there’s the psychological benefits. One small exercise of willpower, like flossing, may help to develop willpower in general, and now that shopping’s no longer a patriotic exercise (well, it still is, but everyone’s hoping the Chinese will catch on to it first), you can use that willpower to keep on moving past the stores.
Hey, it’s not like you’re going to have to be working out those big chunks of expensive meat that get stuck between the teeth anyway; a bean skin is a lot easier to flick away.